7 Scientifically Proven Ways Triathlon Training Can Help Alleviate Anxiety

author : SarahWilliams
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Triathlon Training, Even Without the Race, Brings Huge Benefits

When it comes to exercise, it seems that doctors are prescribing it for more and more conditions these days. High blood pressure? Exercise. Weight gain? Exercise. High Cholesterol? Exercise, especially in its more natural, free form – running, biking and swimming.

Did you know that working out is also a first line of defense for anxiety as well? It’s true. When seeing help for anxiety often people are given a threefold prescription to seek therapy, take medication, and exercise.

Believe it or not, out of this three punch cocktail, physicians and therapists alike will often recommend trying exercise before medicating. Why is exercise so powerful that it can knock out one of the strongest emotions the brain experiences?

Read on to find out more about these 7 scientifically proven ways that running can help alleviate anxiety.


Releases Endorphins


One thing that science has proven time and time again is that exercise, for example even the shortest run, causes your body to release endorphins. Endorphins are a group of hormones secreted by the nervous system that cause an analgesic effect.

Remember Elle Woods from Legally Blonde? Perhaps one of her most quoted lines from the movie is when she was defending someone in court from the charge of murder and she states, “Exercise gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy, happy people just don't shoot their husbands!”

Endorphins are powerful little hormones that boost your mood and can give you a positive outlook in life. When dealing with anxiety, people will often report that they feel “so much better!” or like a weight has been lifted after they go for a run or do some type of cardiovascular exercise for at least twenty minutes.

In fact, endorphins may play a key role in the feeling of euphoria that long-distance runners experience, called “runners high.”


Helps you sleep better


One of the biggest triggers for anxiety is a lack of good sleep. People who suffer from insomnia or frequently interrupted sleep experience an increase in anxiety because their brain is not functioning at full capacity.

The National Foundation For Sleep says that physical activity is imperative for a good night’s sleep. Because your temperature rises while working out and then drops later on, it not only allows you to fall asleep sooner, but helps you sleep through the night.

A study at Northwestern University revealed that participants who exercised daily experienced less daytime sleepiness and better nighttime sleep than those who did not partake in physical exertion at all.

It’s all too easy in this digital age to forget that we are biologically hardwired to move. Our ancestors spent most of their lives on their feet and it is unnatural for us to be as sedentary as we’ve become. Hence the spike in the numbers of people experiencing anxiety.

By adopting a regular exercise routine, you can easily keep anxiety under control if not completely at bay.


Encourages healthy eating


One of the biggest scientific revelations in our recent history has been that 80% of our immune system is located in the gut. To study this, physicians and dieticians have experimented by putting people on whole food diets (diets that limit processed and high sugar foods) to see if it affects their mental health. And guess what? Eating healthy absolutely improves our mental well-being.

When our guts are unhealthy, it can trigger an immune response which can in turn lead to an increased experience of anxiety. While it can be hard to make the right choices when it comes to food, a big benefit of working out regularly is that it encourages you to eat healthier.

Weather you are a runner, cyclist, swimmer or a heavy weight junkie, there is no worse feeling than trying to push through a workout with a stomach upset or tired/achy feeling. Good exercise demands a certain level of healthy eating and when seeing the results of our labors, we are more likely to choose to apple over the slice of apple pie.

When you exercise you are more motivated to eat healthier to fuel your body. By making healthy choices in the kitchen you’ll give your gut and your brain the sustenance it needs to function properly and avoid anxiety.


It helps you breathe better


Exercise literally oxygenates your blood which boosts good blood flow. This allows your brain to function better and can significantly reduce anxiety as a result. Ever heard of cardio junkies? You can bet that their oxygen input and output is through the roof!

Aerobic exercises use your large muscle groups to move at a steady and rhythmic pace. This type of exercise really works your heart and lungs, improving their endurance which in turn helps your body use oxygen more efficiently. In time, with a solid workout regimen, this can improve your breathing.

If you’ve ever worked your way through an anxiety attack, you know that breathing is one of the most important factors in gaining control over your stress or panic. Exercise can regulate your breathing which helps prevent sudden onsets of anxiety and, if they do come, help you breathe your way efficiently through them.

Having a good and steady flow of oxygen to the brain helps it function at its best. Exercise provides an increase in blood to the brain which means more energy and oxygen which results in a better functioning brain.


Increases your sense of well being.


Exercise allows you to feel better about yourself physically and mentally - thus reducing general anxiety about things such as appearance and performance. It makes you feel stronger, healthier and increases your self-confidence, especially as you witness physical results from working out regularly.

Often times we experience anxiety not just because of a single stressor, but because of a whole backlog of issues that we may not be dealing with. Solidifying a good workout regimen can help you work through and organize the things in your life by giving you better confidence and a clearer understanding of how you need to go about them.

There is empowerment in completing several cycle classes in a week or going for regular runs. You not only get to bask in the physical benefits, but experience the emotional highs that come from a good workout.


Releases GABA


Neuroscience has come a long way in providing us with insight into the brain. Studies have shown that along with endorphins, there are other things released during exercise called neurotransmitters.

You may be familiar with GABA as a type of vitamin that’s frequently recommended to people struggling with anxiety. Well, GABA is actually much more powerful than a vitamin and it’s naturally produced right in your own brain!

Neuroscientists at the University of California at Davis (UC Davis) have pinpointed exactly how mental fitness is improved by physical fitness and it all boils down to this neurotransmitter known as GABA. Psychology Today tells us that “GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter of our central nervous system. Its principal role is to reduce the excitability of neurons throughout the nervous system.”

So basically GABA is this miracle calming chemical which keeps neurons in the brain from mis-firing or firing too easily. It provides a sense of calm and can ward off anxiety attacks before we even know they are coming. All you have to do to increase the amount of GABA in your brain? Work out!


Strengthens you


Running makes you stronger - physically, mentally and emotionally.

Being and feeling stronger increases your sense of power and can help you feel in control. Often anxiety stems from the acute feeling of being out of control of your life. Working out can reign that back in for you.

Gaining and maintaining strength helps lend power over your emotions - power to conquer anxiety and anything else that life may throw at you Working out will equip you with the physical and mental strength to overcome anxiety and to find peace with the best version of yourself.

The human body is an amazing thing. How incredible it is that so often the ability to combat a problem is to reach inside and pull from within. By taking up a regular running routine, you can single handedly relieve anxiety and empower yourself in the process.




By Sarah Williams

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date: December 18, 2019

SarahWilliams

Sarah Williams is a Berlin based blogger who is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. She’s a total fitness freak, who believes that true happiness comes from taking care of your body and having great relationships.

avatarSarahWilliams

Sarah Williams is a Berlin based blogger who is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. She’s a total fitness freak, who believes that true happiness comes from taking care of your body and having great relationships.

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